Are We Hardwired?: The Role of Genes in Human Behavior

Paperback | October 21, 2004

byWilliam R. Clark, Michael Grunstein

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Books such as Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene have aroused fierce controversy by arguing for the powerful influence of genes on human behavior. But are we entirely at the mercy of our chromosomes? In Are We Hardwired?, scientists William R. Clark and Michael Grunstein say the answer is bothyes--and no. The power and fascination of Are We Hardwired? lie in their explanation of that deceptively simple answer. Using eye-opening examples of genetically identical twins who, though raised in different families, have had remarkably parallel lives, the authors show that indeed roughly half of humanbehavior can be accounted for by DNA. But the picture is quite complicated. Clark and Grunstein take us on a tour of modern genetics and behavioral science, revealing that few elements of behavior depend upon a single gene; complexes of genes, often across chromosomes, drive most of ourheredity-based actions. To illustrate this point, they examine the genetic basis, and quirks, of individual behavioral traits--including aggression, sexuality, mental function, eating disorders, alcoholism, and drug abuse. They show that genes and environment are not opposing forces; heredity shapeshow we interpret our surroundings, which in turn changes the very structure of our brain. Clearly we are not simply puppets of either influence. Perhaps most interesting, the book suggests that the source of our ability to choose, to act unexpectedly, may lie in the chaos principle: the most minutedifferences during activation of a single neuron may lead to utterly unpredictable actions. This masterful account of the nature-nurture controversy--at once provocative and informative--answers some of our oldest questions in unexpected new ways

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Books such as Richard Dawkins's The Selfish Gene have aroused fierce controversy by arguing for the powerful influence of genes on human behavior. But are we entirely at the mercy of our chromosomes? In Are We Hardwired?, scientists William R. Clark and Michael Grunstein say the answer is bothyes--and no. The power and fascinat...

William R. Clark is Professor Emeritus of Immunology in the Department of Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of a number of books about biology, immunology, and evolution, including Sex and the Origins of Death, A Means to an End: The Biological Basis of Aging and D...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:336 pages, 6.1 × 9.21 × 0.98 inPublished:October 21, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0195178009

ISBN - 13:9780195178005

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Table of Contents

Prologue1. Mirror, Mirror2. In the Beginning: The Evolutionary Origins of Behavior3. The Nose Knows4. As the Worm Turns: Learning and Memory in the roundworm - C. Elegans5. About Genes and Behavior6. Life in the Fourth Dimension: The role of Clocks in Regulating Behavior7. You Must Remember This: The Evolution of Learning and Memory8. The Role of Neurotransmitters in Human Behavior9. The Genetics of Aggression10. The Genetics of Consumption, Part I: Eating Disorders11. The Genetics of Consumption, Part II: Substance Abuse12. The Genetics of Human Mental Function13. The Genetics of Human Sexual Preference14. Genes, The Environment, and Free WillAppendix I - Finding and Identifying GenesAppendix II - A Brief History of EugenicsReferencesIndex

Editorial Reviews

"Are we hardwired? Do billion-year old genes play an important role in human behavior? Pick up this book. You won't be able to put it down."--Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., Professor of Psychology, University of Minnesota